21 Mar 2014

Met publicly apologises for shooting mother of six

The Metropolitan police has for the first time publicly apologised for the shooting of Cherry Groce, which sparked the 1985 Brixton riots.

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The mother of six was crippled by a police bullet during a raid on her home in search of one of her sons on suspicion of armed robbery (he was charged but later acquitted at trial).

She spent the next 26 years in a wheelchair. Her inquest is due to take place this summer and documents obtained by Channel 4 News reveal that a pathologist for the family and a pathologist for the police have both concluded that there is a causal link between the shooting and her death 26 years later.

Channel 4 News can also reveal the Met paid more than £0.5m in compensation to Mrs Groce but with no admission of liability. Now a secret 400 page report has emerged which may suggest otherwise.

It is the work of a senior West Yorkshire police officer, John Domaille, who was brought in to investigate the Met shooting in 1985.

But his findings have never been made public and were only disclosed to the Groce family in December 2013. While the report remains confidential, I have seen extracts in a letter sent to the Groce family rejecting their request for legal aid.

The investigating officer concludes “the operation was not reasonable and grave risks were created” and that ” at the very least (the shooter) Inspector Lovelock displayed professional ineptitude”.

Inspector Douglas Lovelock stood trial in 1987 on a charge of inflicting unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm and was acquitted. There was no disciplinary action taken against him.

Only last year did the Metropolitan police privately apologise to the family. Today for the first time, the Met made that a public apology after an approach by Channel 4 News.

In a statement, Commander Neil Basu said: ” There is no doubt that the Met were responsible for the injuries to Mrs Groce in 1985 and it is only right that her family receives an apology.

“I am happy to for it to be known publicly that I met with her son in July of last year and offered him and his family an apology on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service.”

But the family is now facing another battle with the authorities … this time over legal aid. They’ve been refused funds to be represented at the forthcoming inquest on the grounds, according to the Legal Aid Services, there are no new issues.

In a report leaked to Channel 4 News, the Met concludes there are no longer lessons to be learned from this case.
“None of the policies or guidance used at the time of the incident is still in existence … individual circumstances that resulted in the accidental shooting … cannot re-occur …”

That’s for the Met to prove at the inquest. The force will be represented by a QC, so will former Inspector Douglas Lovelock.

The only party which does not have legal representation is the family … as long as they are denied legal aid.

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